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Tuesday's Frosty Mug

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Some things to read while setting a good example.

It was a rough day for nearly every Brewer pitcher to appear in yesterday's game, but perhaps the most striking was a rough outing for Trevor Hoffman, who allowed two runs on four hits in his second Cactus League game. We're less than two weeks away from Opening Day, meaning Hoffman will likely get around three more appearances in an attempt to get ready for the season. Ken Macha said he's not worried about Hoffman's early struggles.

I've been considering building this into a full post for a few days now, but I don't seem to be getting around to it so I'll mention it here: I'm starting to wonder if letting Hoffman wait this long into camp before making his first spring appearance was a good idea, for a couple of reasons:

  • First of all, let's not forget the fact that Hoffman is 42 and certainly could age and regress. By limiting him to roughly five spring appearances, the Brewers aren't giving themselves much evaluation time with him. 
  • Secondly, as a closer it could be difficult for Hoffman to make mechanical adjustments later on. If something is out of whack with his delivery, spring training would have been the time to work on it. It'd be hard for Hoffman to do side sessions to correct a problem during the season: As closer, he's expected to be available every day.

Maybe I'm overreacting to two appearances, and maybe Hoffman will turn it around and make the whole point moot. It's certainly not something I'm losing sleep over. But it is something that's starting to creep into the back of my mind.

Speaking of potentially moot points, Tom Haudricourt wonders if the battle for the final rotation and bullpen spots might end with the Brewers deciding to keep all four starting pitchers. He mentions Carlos Villanueva as a guy who could be optioned to make room for Dave Bush, Manny Parra, Chris Narveson and Jeff Suppan to stay on the roster. Ken Macha told reporters yesterday morning that he expects to announce the first four starters after Wednesday's off day.

Yesterday was a pretty busy day for roster moves: First, the Brewers traded Matt Treanor to the Rangers for infielder Ray Olmedo. Olmedo is 28 and has played in the majors over parts of five seasons, but none since 2007. Since the start of the 2006 season he's played in AAA for the Reds, Blue Jays, Nationals and Rays, primarily as a shortstop. He hit .250/.290/.335 for Durham last season.

This move likely means George Kottaras has won the backup catcher job. Tom Haudricourt notes that Kottaras is under team control for the next five seasons, which likely factored into the decision. Meanwhile, Matt Treanor made a joke about Surprise on his way out the door, making me wish he'd stayed around a little longer.

The Brewers also made three cuts yesterday, optioning Adam Heether and Josh Butler and returning Trent Oeltjen to minor league camp (FanShot). Oeltjen and Heether's departure likely means Jim Edmonds and Joe Inglett have made the team. Butler never really had much of a chance this spring after early injuries shut him down.

Four lockers in Maryvale were cleaned out yesterday, but one was immediately refilled: Third baseman Taylor Green was invited over to big league camp to fill some of the late innings in the infield over camp's final weeks (FanShot). Green stands no chance of making the team, but some experience in big league camp can only help him as he works to rebound from a disappointing 2009 season.

Elsewhere in camp minutiae:

As mentioned above, Jim Edmonds has likely made the team but, as mentioned yesterday, he doesn't seem too excited about the possibility of only playing a couple of times a week. If Edmonds does manage to earn more playing time, Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew wonders if it will come at the expense of Corey Hart, not Carlos Gomez.

In the minors:

  • Chris Mehring has the box score from a minor league game yesterday between the Timber Rattlers and Brevard County Manatees.
  • Joe Posnanski is the latest writer to compile several top 50 prospect lists in an effort to produce one master list: Alcides Escobar is ranked 27th and Brett Lawrie is #50.

In predictions/projections:

Thanks to over 200 of you who have already participated in this week's BCB Tracking Poll. If you haven't already, please take a moment to do so - the more input we get, the more valid the results will be. I'm leaving the poll open until noon today, and will post the results tonight.

Around baseball:

Dodgers: Released Angel Berroa.
Mariners: Jack Hannahan is still struggling with a strained groin and will likely open the season on the DL.
Marlins: Released reliever Mike MacDougal.
Rockies: Signed pitcher Joe Beimel to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Returned Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffman to the Dodgers.

If you've been reading the transactions, odds are you've become quite familiar with Casey Fien, who has yet to pitch in a game this spring after being designated for assignment by the Tigers, claimed by the Red Sox, waived by the Red Sox and claimed by the Blue Jays, then outrighted to the minors and released by the Blue Jays before being re-signed to a minor league deal by the Tigers. As one might imagine, it's been a pretty stressful spring for Fien, who says he's glad to be back home and is eager to be back in game action.

Joe Mauer's new contract continues to be a hot topic of conversation around baseball. In the comments of yesterday's Mug, Mykenk noted this Baseball Digest Daily post wondering if the Twins have locked up the next Jason Kendall. Kendall and Mauer's offensive games have never really been all that similar, so the comparison doesn't really hold. Today, Sully Baseball wonders compares Mauer to Vernon Wells instead.

Speaking of Jason Kendall: He's far and away the all time leader in games batting leadoff and playing catcher.

Yesterday I mentioned a Marc Hulet post from FanGraphs making the case that there's no such thing as a fifth starter. Today, Rob Neyer expanded on the argument and considered the possibility that teams could benefit from a less one-size-fits-all approach to the end of the rotation.

(Side note: You can occasionally quantify the passion of a baseball writer by the timestamp of their posts. My favorite example is this Craig Calcaterra post on the Nationals signing Matt Capps, timestamped 6:16 AM on Christmas Eve. The Neyer post above is another good one: A thorough examination of a semi-irrelevant roster spot, posted at 3:24 AM.)

Here's another semi-irrelevant but interesting roster note: The Blue Jays named Shaun Marcum their Opening Day starter yesterday, meaning three pitchers who didn't log a single major league inning last season (Marcum, Jake Westbrook and Ben Sheets) could take the ball for their team's first 2010 game.

FanGraphs' organizational rankings continue with the Reds checking in at #20. The Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs are still on the board.

It's a running joke on Baseball Tonight, but apparently it's also a real thing: If you're interested in playing this season, The Left Field Corner is running an Umpire Fantasy League. Their 2009 umpire awards are also worth noting: Jim Joyce and Dana DeMuth qualified as baseball's best umpires, while Bill Hohn is listed as baseball's worst. Hohn had nine ejections last season, with just one coming in a situation where he made the correct call. (h/t Baseball Zealot)

Happy birthday today to 1972-1976 Brewer George Scott, who turns 66. Scott led the league in 1975 with 36 home runs, 109 RBI, 318 total bases and 26 double plays. He's 13th on the Brewer All Time list with 115 home runs.

Oh, and if you were wondering how to make these, I have a recipe for you.

Drink up.